Taking Senior Citizens To Disney World

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I was going to take a short solo trip to Walt Disney World at the end of October, and then I thought, why don’t I see if my parents can take the 4 hour drive south and meet me? They have finally gotten used to the fact that I go about every other month, but I can tell they just don’t quite get my fascination for this magical place. Why not take this opportunity to show and share with them all of my Disney knowledge? Maybe by the end of the visit, Disney will be as magical to them as it is to me.

I am hoping my Disney Boss, Len, will be assigning me interesting, if not peculiar, research while there. I think they’ll be amazed by the variety of data that is collected by the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.

They have one full day in the park. We’re going to Epcot. I am afraid I’m going to exhaust them with the walking. They are in good shape. If you have read my other blog posts, you know I am an Extra Morning Magic Hours gal — Be there at rope drop. I’ll need to find a balance.

I will print out the “Senior Citizen Touring Plan of Epcot”, but I want to know what tips you have. What has worked for you and what hasn’t. I still have not made a resort reservation. What do you suggest? I can’t wait for your tips. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m hoping Magical.

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Posted on October 15, 2009

26 Responses to “Taking Senior Citizens To Disney World”

  • Definitely stay at Port Orleans French Quarter or Animal Kingdom Lodge.

  • If they have any mobility issues, consider renting an electric scooter so they can get around easier and make the day go better for all. I realize you say they are in good shape, but can they stand miles of walking?

  • I would suggest the Wilderness Lodge or Animal Kingdom Lodge. Both are totally enclosed, and after a long day at the parks it would be handy to have everything real close by.

  • I am almost a senior and in good shape. But for me it is the standing that takes its toll. There are several acts in the World Showcase where you can sit inside and listen. In Mexico (benches by the fountain) listen to the mariachi band, the Voices of Liberty at the American Adventure, and Si Xian in the Temple of Heaven. Also, see the movies in France and Norway (well, maybe not Norway). Before and during IllumiNations, you can sit on the steps at the Canada pavilion.

  • Definitely adjust your pace…we came back from a week with three generations and I thought I had planned for enough downtime. You should have an easier time without kids involved (I’m assuming that, though) but keep in mind that you may well have to play it by ear! Have a great time…we’re so happy we had this trip with kids and grandparents together!

  • by Janet Sala (FigmentRules) on October 15, 2009, at 7:01 pm EDT

    I took my mom for her 90th birthday. She completely understands going to WDW several times a year. She and my dad frequently vacationed there since it opened in 1971, and even more frequently after my dad retired and moved back to the mainland.

    For this trip, we stayed at the Polynesian in the Tahiti building. It’s an easy walk to the monorail to EPCOT or MK at the TTC. On the first day, I realized she had issues walking from the main lobby out through the resort to our building. This was a surprise as she typically walks several blocks every day and frequently goes on for a mile or so. Just the rigor of from getting to the airport, on the plane, and out to the hotel wore her out. I went back to the front desk and had Walker deliver a length-of-stay rental wheel chair for her. Being on the monorail made that much easier to deal with. Also, she would walk and push her own wheelchair for significant intervals. Using the wheelchair as a “walker” gave her some extra stability.

    I’m really glad we went when we did. She’s since had a mild stroke and at 93 is no longer up to the travel, never mind touring the parks. She loved that trip, though!

    Some hints: frequent restroom stops, find shady places to sit/park, pay attention to hydration (no matter what Len says), naps are a good idea, more frequent light meals, spend some time people watching, and you’re never too old to ride Soarin’!

    • by Mandy Laughs on July 1, 2013, at 1:06 am EDT

      Hi Janet! My husband and I are taking my family (son age 4 for first time) and my parents and my elderly aunt age 77 to WDW in September 2013. My aunt can walk but, like your Mom had issues, we are getting a length of stay wheelchair as well. We are staying at the contemporary so the monorail will help. My biggest concern is getting her on and off of the rides. She has arthritis and is a heavy set women (not over 300 lbs – but she wears a 2X – so she is not tiny). My husband and I, or my husband and my dad will have to help her on and off the rides.
      I need to find out which rides might be too difficult for her to get into. I don’t want her to have to wait in line forever only to find out it will bee to hard for her to get in a boat because it is too low, or into a car that is too high to climb up into. I cannot find anything that gives me info on this!
      Any suggestions?

      • Hi Mandy – several of the rides have vehicles that will accommodate someone in a wheelchair so your aunt won’t have to transfer from her chair to the ride. Pick up a Guide for Guests with Disabilities in each park and it will have symbols for each ride showing whether a guest must transfer.

        My dad was able to ride in his chair on Little Mermaid in Magic Kingdom, Living With The Land, and others. You can always ask a cast member at the queue if you think she will have trouble. Pirates might be an issue for her, as well as Maelstrom in Epcot. Those are boat rides without a specialty vehicle and she will have to step down and into the boat.

        Cast members are very good about accommodating guests with special needs and they will ask you in the queue if she will transfer from her chair to the ride or if you want to wait for the special car where that option is available. If they don’t offer, be sure to speak up and ask if that is an option for the ride. Some rides have a separate wheelchair entrance, some rides mainstream the wheelchair guests. Again the CM at the ride entrance will direct you.

        Some of the older rides have very narrow queues and require that you transfer from an ECV to a manual wheelchair to go up through the queue — Winnie the Pooh comes to mind. She can Pooh & Peter Pan without having to step up or down much as I recall. Peter Pan, Haunted Mansion, Finding Nemo (Epcot), Buzz Lightyear, and maybe some others load on a moving sidewalk.

        The Disney on Wheels Blog also has a good list of attractions and their accessibility: http://www.disneyonwheels.com/wheelchair-accessibility/

        Hope you ALL have a great trip!!

  • by Caroline Baggerly on October 15, 2009, at 7:30 pm EDT

    All of these tips are awesome. Please, keep them coming.
    Thanks,Caroline

  • My last trip (a family reunion) included four senior citizens of different activity levels. We stayed at Kidani Village, which was wonderful, and explained our travel party’s health issues. They gave us a room that was on the main floor and close to the door to the bus transportation, which was wonderful. The one thing that was agreed upon by everyone is that the afternoon break was essential (especially as this was in August!). The zero entry pool was a huge hit, as getting up and down stairs wasn’t so easy for everyone. Animal Kingdom was nice in that during the afternoon break, some folks slept, some watched the animals, and one of our party wrote a traveler’s diary similar to one she was reading from an ancestor of ours (written in 1912 when my family traveled around the world). Now that we’re back, the family is so thankful to have lots of photographs to remember the trip by. If you can spare some extra time, a Photopass photo shoot is a great way to get some family portraits for a rather reasonable price (around $85 with DVC or $100 without, I think).

    As far as parks go, Epcot was the hands-down favorite. The best ride according to the seniors in our group was Soarin’, and Sunshine Seasons got high praise for the food diversity and portion size (so much of the places they ate they felt the portion sizes were way too big).

  • This is so interesting and timely! I am taking my soon-to-be 66 year old mother to Disney World for her birthday in November. I am enjoying the tips and very happy that I had already booked our stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I am not concerned about my mother walking so much as all the standing that’s required so those tips were very helpful.

    • by Caroline Baggerly on October 16, 2009, at 9:00 pm EDT

      I am so glad that you are learning from it too. It’s great to have the benefit of other peoples’ experiences. I still don’t have a reservation.

  • I’ll echo — get a scooter or wheelchair delivered to your room upon arrival for the full length of stay. Pay for it youself and have it delivered to you if there are objections. The scooter for my Mom was a lifesaver for me and my folks once we had it. But we had to go thru dinner the first night without one to convince her. And then she missed most of the first day waiting in her room for it to be delivered. It’s also great that the busses are all set up to let you drive the scooters right into the bus.

  • I travel with my dad, who will be 78 on our next trip. He is in great health, but did suffer a horrible fall last winter and broke his hip. He is left with a slight limp and cannot walk as much or go as fast as he did before. He wants to try WDW without a scooter and instead use his walker (it’s the kind that has 4 wheels and a seat to sit on when he gets tired).

    As far as a resort, pick one where everything is contained within one building. We like Animal Kingdom Lodge the best, and we always request a room closest to the lobby so dinner and the bus stop are close by.

  • Where do you get wheelchairs? We are taking my grandmother this January and she will be 81. She says she does not need a wheelchair but I think she may change her mind after a day or two.

  • I’m 46 and I think I’ll save this and give it to my kids in 20 years!

    • by Caroline Baggerly on October 21, 2009, at 4:57 pm EDT

      Bob,

      Thank you for the laugh!!! You made my day! ;)
      Caroline

      • I too am taking my mom who is 82 and has problems with her legs to Disney. She will be the center of attention on this trip in Dec. We will be staying at a private villa approx. 7 miles from Disney. We will be there from Dec. 28 thru Jan. 6. We are planning to purchase 7 day, no expiration, hopper passes. I am planning to rent a scooter for her however, I am not sure if we should rent one through a company outside of Disney which we can keep for the length of our stay or just through Disney each day we go. I am thinking it may be good to have the scooter for other trips we are planning like the Holy Land Experience, etc. Any thoughts or information on this or any other aspect of traveling with an 83 year old woman will be greatly appreciated. I am also looking for information about what particular rides will be good for her. Deb

        • From what I’ve heard — but have no firsthand knowledge of — electric scooters at the park can “sell out” before midday. It’s also more expensive to rent by the day at the Disney parks, where it’s about $45 per day. We just rented one from an outside company for a week for $180. But you have to transport the scooter from place to place and need to be able to assemble/disassemble and load/unload from your own vehicle.

          • Rae,

            What company did you use and is one scooter better than/easier to use than another. She has never operated one before but does still drive her car. Did you reserve the scooter prior to your arrival? Did the company drop the scooter off? We should have not problem with the assembly and transport of it from day to day as we are traveling in a minivan and both my husband and my brother-in-law will be with us. Thanks so much for your feedback. Deb

        • We arrive Saturday. We reserved via Randy’s Mobility and they will deliver to our resort and pick up when the week is done. We prepaid when we reserved, or you can prepay half and pay half on delivery. As for scooter models, I have no idea. There are several kinds. You can call whichever company you settle on and describe your needs and they’ll steer you in the right direction. We’ve never used a rental before.

          • Rae,

            Thanks a bunch. Let me know how it goes as we are not traveling until end of Dec. Hope all goes well and the sunshines. Deb

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